Does your pooch turn into a trembling scaredy dog when exposed to certain sounds? While some dogs pay no attention to loud noises, some are spooked by them. Since spooked dogs can be destructive, helping Fido cope with unpleasant sounds can reduce anxiety for both of you.
Noise Anxiety in Dogs
Noises Dogs Hate
The louder the noise, the more likely it is to freak some dogs out. Thunder and fireworks top the list of noises many dogs hate. Sirens, motorcycle engines, car horns and noisy garbage trucks are likely to be tossed into the mix. Even vacuum cleaners and doorbells can send some dogs into a full panic.
Why Dogs Hate Loud Noises
Dogs have a more acute sense of hearing than people do, which is why they tend to be more sensitive to sounds. Your dog can pick up sounds about four times farther away than you can, and they can detect frequencies you aren't even aware of. While the sound of the vacuum might seem like no big deal to you, your dog hears a much different, louder version of what you do.
Dog Reactions to Loud Noises
Fido wants to escape the frightening sound of loud noises. Many dogs react to loud noises by attempting to run away or hide from them. If they are unable to escape the noise, some phobic dogs respond to fear by whining, barking or urinating. If your dog desperately tries to escape the noises that have completely rattled his nerves, he could injure himself or your property in his attempt to get away.
Dealing with Noise Phobias in Dogs
Are you unwittingly reinforcing your dog's fear of loud noises and intensifying the danger to your faithful friend? Think about how you normally react when you see your dog displaying fearful behavior about a particular noise. If you comfort or coddle Fido in an attempt to make him feel better, the reward of extra attention may reinforce his fearful state. If you punish Fido for displaying fearful behavior, that is a breach of his trust in you, and it will greatly increase his despair. The best way to deal with a dog's noise phobiais to ignore his fearful behavior while reinforcing increased noise tolerance with praise and rewards.
Check your local pet store for commercial products such as the Thundershirt, which is designed to minimize dog anxiety. Studies as well as anecdotal evidence have shown them to be beneficial for some. Consult with your vet or an animal behaviorist about the possibility of using behavioral therapies such as sound desensitization or oral medications to reduce noise anxiety in your pal.
By Kristina de la Cal
HumaneSociety: Fear of Thunder and Other Loud Noises
WebVet: How to Calm a Dog Scared of Loud Noises
DogBreedInfo: Understanding a Dog's Senses
HillsPet: Helping Your Dog Cope with Loud Thunder and Fireworks
Thundershirt: How Thundershirt Works
PerfectPaws: Dog Fear of Loud Noises
PetSamaritans: When Dogs Are Scared of Loud Noises
GoldenRetrieverClubofAmerica: Dogs and Loud Noises
About the Author
Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, "Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.